Desert Biome

By: Emily Kobes and Tari Santosa

The Desert

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Desert Vegetation

Desert Organisms

Location

Deserts are all around world. There are many types of deserts, there are the hot deserts like the Sahara and Kalahari Deserts. They are full of sand and dust, have broiling hot temperatures and small amounts of water. There are cold deserts like the Antarctic tundra where vegetation is scarce and it rarely rains; there are coastal deserts like those on the coast of Chile.

There are hot deserts located in North-Central Africa, Eastern Asia, South-Western North America, South and Central America, and Australia.

Cold deserts are located in the Arctic tundra and Greenland.

Weather

In a hot desert, temperatures are very high during the summer and then decrease to warm temperatures for the rest of the year.


In all types of desert biomes, the rainfall is very low. Some deserts get less than 1.5 cm of rain per year, while other types of deserts get less than 50 cm of rain per year. In hot deserts, the evaporation rate of rain exceeds its falling rate, and thus sometimes the water evaporates before it even hits the ground.


In coastal deserts, the temperatures are moderately warm. Their winters are cool and the summers are warm.


In cold deserts, the temperatures are annually below freezing. However, the summers are considerably warmer with an average of 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius).

Organism Adaptations & Variations

Because the desert is such a harsh environment, organisms need to be specifically adapted to the environment to survive. They need to be able to live off of little water and extreme temperates.


Animals that live in hot deserts generally have light colored fur. It helps animals like rodents and lizards hide from their predators as the tan fur camouflages with the sand. Animals like the Fennec Fox have large ears, so when they run, the wind helps them cool down. Plants that live in hot and dry deserts also are adapted to their environment by their water-conserving structure. Their roots are also widely spread beneath the ground to find water quickly.

There are many different variations of snakes living in hot deserts, but they all are lightly colored and their scales are rough to help move around on the loose sand.

In cold deserts, animals survive through their thick coats. Animals like polar bears and seals grow layers of fat around their body to keep warm. Penguins huddle together to share their body heat.

Organism Interdepency

Organisms depend on interdependency to survive. It could be for food, shelter, protection, etc.


Mutualism:

In the Coastal Desert, certain species of birds and antelope have a mutualism. The birds sit on the antelope's back and eat the bugs living on the antelope. The birds get food and the deer gets its fur cleaned.


Commensalism:

Birds and Cacti are a perfect example of a commensalism. Certain types of birds make their nests in dead cacti, and they raise their young in a hollowed out hole in the cactus. The bird benefits from the cactus, but the cactus receives nothing.


Parasitism:

Fleas and Coyotes have a parasitic relationship. Fleas live on the coyotes and drink their blood.


Predation:

Snakes, Coyotes, and birds of prey all eat smaller creatures such as mice and lizards. In a cold desert, polar bears eat seals, seals eat penguins and fish, and penguins eat fish.

Food web and ecological pyramid

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Adding an exotic species...

If we added chickens...

then they would be secondary consumers because they ate seeds and bugs. Also, the tertiary consumers would have more to eat with the addition of chickens. The insect population decline because the chickens ate them and the small lizards and kangaroo rats would have more competition for food.

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Removing a Native species..

If we removed all the cacti...

then all the primary consumers would end up dying from lack of food. Then, the consumers higher on the ecological pyramid, starting with the secondary consumers, would die. Then the entire ecosystem would collapse and animals will starve.

There is no food web that can be made with the removal of the cacti because the cacti are producers. Producers are at the bottom of the ecological pyramid, so without the cacti, there are no consumers. The primary consumers would not be able to survive as they eat plants; then the secondary consumers would not exist as they eat the primary consumers, and so on.